June 11, 2019

Lawsuits Related to Anesthesia Mistakes When Giving Birth

While doctors, midwives, and expectant mothers all want a natural, easy birth, it’s not always possible. If a mother or her baby go into a crisis, doctors may need to operate immediately with an emergency C-section. Any procedure with anesthesia carries risks, but if you or your child has suffered an injury as a result of anesthesia, a birth injury lawyer can review your case and determine if you are eligible for compensation.

Errors and mistakes with anesthesia can carry grave consequences for both mothers and their babies. Many factors can contribute to these mistakes, and many of them are preventable errors. Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of injury or death in the medical industry, carrying an annual price tag of $19 billion.

Anesthesia during birth

Most mothers do not need to undergo full anesthesia during birth, unless there are severe and traumatic circumstances that require additional surgeries such as a car accident. Another instance is if the mother refuses an epidural for most of her labor but runs into sudden complications. If the baby needs to be C-sectioned immediately, she might be put under full anesthesia in the interest of time.

The common anesthetic used during childbirth is called an epidural. The epidural is used to lessen pain during vaginal births and numb the mother from the waist down during a C-section. It typically takes about 10-15 minutes for the epidural’s pain relief to set in.

Complications for mothers

The epidural is inserted into the lower back at the spinal canal in between the vertebrae. A needle is inserted into the spine first, followed by a catheter which remains in the back until labor is over. Sometimes, mistakes can be made in the insertion of the needle and catheter, puncturing the spinal sac or hitting the spinal cord and causing paralysis or permanent neuropathy.

Another preventable error in delivering an epidural to a mother during childbirth is septic meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord caused by bacteria entering the spinal cord during the needle and/or catheter insertion. This is usually caused by inadequate sterilization methods of the needle or insertion area on the back. Healthcare Associated Infections, or HAIs, are all-too common: 1 in 25 patients will develop an HAI during their stay at a hospital.

Of the patients who receive an epidural, luckily, the cases of meningitis are rare; however, the swelling of the brain and spinal cord can have lasting consequences on the mother or may result in death.

For mothers who may have unknown preexisting health conditions, a reaction with the anesthesia can result in respiratory distress or cardiac arrest. Too much dosage or inattention by the anesthesiologist or doctor can also lead to these devastating complications. Women who go into cardiac arrest may suffer from permanent heart muscle damage or permanent brain damage as a result of hypoxia. While these complications are more likely to happen under full anesthesia, there is still a risk of these injuries with epidurals.

Complications for babies

Babies can also be affected by too much anesthesia, or the impact the anesthesia has on their mother’s body. Because epidurals can interfere with labor or prolong it, which increases the risks to the baby, including hypoxia which can lead to permanent brain damage.

Mothers who cannot push properly due to the numbing effects of the anesthesia will also likely need their babies to be birthed using forceps or a vacuum. Forceps and vacuums can cause injuries to the baby including brain hemorrhage, bruising, bleeding, apnea, and seizures. If the forceps or vacuum are used improperly, or at the wrong times, this can also lead to a greater increase in birth injuries.

Because of the effects of the anesthesia, babies may have difficulty sucking and swallowing immediately after birth or may be in respiratory distress. They can also develop jaundice, have an abnormal heart rate, or be weak and lethargic.

Pursuing damages for birth injuries

While many side effects of anesthesia during birth wear off within a few hours to a few days, some can be lifelong complications for both the mother and the baby. A medical malpractice claim in Michigan must be filed within two years of the incident. A birth injury lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can look at your case and evaluate whether your injuries are the result of mistakes from the anesthesia.

In Michigan, a doctor or team of doctors will review your case to evaluate if your or your child’s injuries meet the standards of medical malpractice. If so, your medical attorney will be able to move forward to get you the compensation you and your baby deserve.

Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates

Eileen Kroll is both a skilled malpractice lawyer and a registered nurse. Eileen and her team can help you compile relevant evidence for your case so you can move forward with your claim. Call us today at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a free consultation. We never charge a fee unless a recovery is made.

Tim is a writer and editor who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Maryland and calls Washington, D.C., home after spending most of his adult life in the country’s capital. Although Tim spent most of his post-college years in the restaurant industry, he became interested in writing about legal matters after he recently moved to Colombia. Today, Tim writes professionally about medical malpractice, drug policies, and workplace injuries. Tim is focused on curating his freelancing career and plans to work remotely for as long he can.

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